When I saw the invitation in the Whole Earth Co-Op newsletter to go visit the family farms from which they buy produce, meat, dairy, and more…I was curious and signed up for the first one 10th St Farm & Market in Afton, MN.
My grandma was a farm girl so I did visit the farm on summer break, it was acres of produce and pasture land. I was treated to rides on the tractor and learned to milk a cow. But this visit to the 10th Street Farm and Market in Afton Minnesota was much different.
As we pulled into the entrance not far from the convenience of the highway we saw 2 plots with perfectly lined rows of various vegetables. Further down the drive, past the log farm home, we get our first view of the purple flowering chive plants in the herb garden. Beyond the herb garden, we see 3 High Tunnels and a heated greenhouse. The owners Hallie and Lisa came out to greet us.
They have a great story; they purchased this property just 3 years ago and have created a bountiful oasis. Doing all the planning, farming, construction, and maintenance with only a little help from their husbands, I was blown-over-impressed.
Using only a 1/3 acre the 10th Street Farm and Market was designed based on the principles of the Elliot Coleman Four Season Farm. 10th Street is a sustainable, organic 44 weeks of harvest, currently offering 20 CSA shares 3 times a year Spring, Summer, and Fall. In addition to offering produce at their farm stand on Thursday and Friday’s during the harvest season.
The High Tunnels weigh approximately 6,500 lbs., are anchored to the ground, and are movable. The tunnels are designed with a double layer of plastic separated by an air pocket with an automated ventilation system (soon to be solar-powered) there is no need for heating or cooling. The tunnel maintains a balmy 55 degrees all winter – just enough to melt the snow off the roof so you can shovel yourself out. It gets toasty during the summers and the tomatoes love it. Each tunnel is on a track that slides over three 30′ wide by 50′ long beds, has both overhead sprinklers and a tape drip system.
This system is so incredibly efficient the ladies are able to jump-start each season by a month, they start planting “in the ground” in late February and extend the harvest until the end of December. 44 varieties, 11-12000 transplants started in the greenhouse, and food for roughly 100 families on 1/3 of an acre each year…WOW! You can learn more about Elliot Coleman’s Four Season Farming on-line in his book Winter Harvest Handbook, or come visit the 10th Street Farm and Market for the Twin Cities Local Farm Tour on July 19th.
To my readers I’ll say check out where your food is coming from, go meet your local farmers or visit your town’s Co-op for more information on local food. Congratulations to Hallie and Lisa, your living your philosophy “Local Food for Local People”. I’ll see you at your farm stand.